All I have is a torn, grainy photograph of a man I hardly knew.
He was a contortionist in Vaudeville and the photo shows him folded in two like a piece of paper. Folks who knew him told me he could put his head between his legs and get his wallet out of his back pocket with his teeth. I never saw this myself, but that’s his legend.
My only memory of him?
He once tried to stab me with a kitchen knife.
Backed me into a corner of my grandma’s kitchen.
I remember the sharp edge of a door handle on a cabinet boring into my back.
I knew I had to save myself. No one else was around.
I was young, maybe 5 years old.
I saw my only out.
Between his legs. He was tall and I was small and that’s what I did.
I burst through the screen door, and ran outside to my grandma.
She was hanging clothes. She wore a red dress.
I pressed my face into the skirt of it and smelled her favorite cologne- Evening in Paris.
I never told her what happened.
I hope it was dementia or Alzheimer’s.
When he died a few years later, I didn’t cry.
Linda Lee Lyberg